Enterprises and startups alike often prefer outsourcing their business and marketing emails. This involves third-party services which handle everything from list management to tracking events through to deliverability monitoring. But these third-party services also increase risk by opening up opportunities for malicious actors to impersonate brands via domain spoofing and deploying phishing attacks on unsuspecting receivers.

It has been reported that around one-third of all spam messages circulating on the internet contain business-related content. Businesses and organizations can fall victim to these messages if they fail to implement the appropriate safeguards, and the use of third-party vendors for sending email messages may be a significant contributing factor.

Integrating DMARC policies with all your third parties can help you prevent spoofing, phishing, and malware attacks that infiltrate your domain.

Why is it important to align your email sending sources?

Email is critical to the success of any business because it enables businesses to stay in contact with their customers and prospects. It is widely used as a primary means of communication and market research, and its importance will only increase as time progresses. Whatever email vendor you use to send your emails, be sure to check whether they support sending DMARC compliant emails on your behalf. 

DMARC is an email security protocol to help prevent phishing attacks, domain spoofing, and BEC. But to be truly effective, a company needs to work closely with all its third parties, so that all emails are DMARC compliant.

Making Your Third-party Vendors DMARC-Compliant

To establish an effective DMARC policy, you should contact your third-party providers to work together with you on the best way to handle email that fails validation. It can prove to be beneficial to explain the advantages of DMARC, answer questions about how it works, and recommend solutions that will help them to fully implement DMARC.

Each third party is different, with its own SPF and DKIM setup process that you’ll need to plan for. To determine the best strategy, you need to be aware of how each partner sends email marketing campaigns, in addition to their technical tracking abilities, reporting features, and integration capabilities. While the process might seem cumbersome and tedious, there are a few easy ways you can speed things up from your side:

  • You can set up a custom subdomain for each of your email vendors and let them handle SPF and DKIM authentication for that domain. In this case, the email vendor uses their mail server to send your emails. The vendor publishes their SPF and DKIM records in the DNS of your subdomain. If you don’t configure a separate DMARC policy for this consigned subdomain, the DMARC policy for your main domain gets automatically levied on your subdomain.
  • Alternatively, the third-party vendor can use your mail servers while sending emails to your clients from your domain. This by default ensures that if you have a DMARC policy for your domain in place, the outgoing emails would be automatically DMARC-compliant. Make sure you update your SPF and DKIM records to include the said third parties to ensure that they are enlisted as an authorized sending source. 

Setting Up SPF, DKIM, and DMARC records for your third-party vendors

  • Make sure you are updating your existing SPF record to include these email sending sources. For example, if you use MailChimp as an email vendor to send marketing emails on behalf of your organization, you need to update your existing SPF record or create a new record (in case you don’t have one in place) that includes MailChimp as an authorized sender. This can be done by either adding an include: mechanism or specific IP addresses used by the vendor while sending your emails.
  • Next, you would need to request your vendor to generate a DKIM key pair for your custom domain. They would use the private key to sign your emails while sending them, and the public key needs to be published by you on your public-facing DNS. The private key is matched against the public key in your DNS by your receivers, during verification.

You can read our email authentication knowledgebase articles to get easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions on how to set up DMARC, SPF, and DKIM for various third-party vendors that you might be using. 

At PowerDMARC, we provide solutions for DMARC deployment and monitoring to help you ensure maximum DMARC compliance. We provide scalable DMARC monitoring solutions with the most in-depth capabilities on the market to help you manage your sending practices in coordination with your vendors’ sending practices. 

With our resources and expertise, we can take the guesswork out of DMARC compliance while delivering analytical reports that identify those that are and those that are not compliant. Sign up for your free DMARC trial today! 

Email is one of the most effective tools for getting your message out, whether it’s for marketing or business use. However, it also presents security threats if you’re not protecting against them. DMARC helps solve this problem by giving you full control of all email that uses your domain name. DMARC is a massive step towards ensuring honest emails stay honest, and malicious emails are protected from reaching inboxes. PowerDMARC has always believed in this mission and has worked hard to make sure the DMARC spec is followed across our entire ecosystem.

Why is Your Email Unsafe?

Email spoofing occurs when an attacker forges the “From” address to make a mail look like it is coming from an authorized, legitimate source. The term can refer to both email clients and server attacks. Spoofing the email client refers to forging the “From”, “To” and/or “Subject” address of mail that originates from a specific client. Spoofing the server refers to forging these addresses in messages that originate from a specific server. 

Email spoofing is a serious issue, especially if you are running a legitimate website that has an email signup form. Because email addresses are often the main target of spammers using email spoofing techniques, your email list can quickly become compromised. This will cause major headaches down the road when you need to disable the registration forms or have to manually unsubscribe members from each of your newsletters or other lists.

How can DMARC help?

A DMARC policy allows you to take control over email spoofing, phishing, and other forms of email and domain abuse. Used in combination with SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail), this powerful mechanism makes it much harder for cybercriminals to send email using your domain name without your permission.

If you don’t have a DMARC record in place, we recommend you use our free DMARC record generator tool to create a custom-tailored TXT record for your domain and implement the protocol. Remember to shift to a DMARC reject policy to gain protection against impersonation threats.

Track Your Email Flow for Consistent Deliverability

If you want to stay abreast of your attackers, you need to avail yourself of the benefits of DMARC report today! It provides you with a wealth of information regarding your email sending sources and failed delivery attempts. You can leverage the information to respond to threats faster, as well as monitor your emails’ performances to ensure consistency in deliverability. 

To maintain the email security health of your domain, it is imperative that your authentication protocols are free from any syntactical or configuration errors. Conduct a DMARC check from time to time to ensure that your DMARC record is functioning properly.

Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) is a standard designed to align Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) message authentication methods for authenticating an email sender’s domain name. This protocol is beneficial for both the mail sender and receiver. It provides a consistent framework for authors, operators, and consumers of these email authentication mechanisms to work together in reducing email spam. A DMARC analyzer helps you to detect when an unauthorized third party is misusing your domain, either by spoofing legitimate email or conducting phishing campaigns.

In terms of advantages, DMARC has a little something to offer for the sender as well as the receiver of the emails. Let’s find out what they are:

What is the difference between authenticating a mail sender and receiver

For sending and receiving emails, there are two different authentication procedures.

The first one is the process of verifying the identity of the sender and receiver. This takes place in order to keep track of who is sending an email and who is receiving it. The second one is verifying that the email address belongs to someone who has permission to send and receive emails from that account.

To verify your identity, you will need to provide personal information such as an ID number or passport number. You can also verify your address by providing a piece of mail with your name and address on it or by signing up for a free email account through Gmail or Yahoo! Mail.

What are the sender’s address and receiver’s address?

A sender’s address and receiver’s address are two different things, but they’re both important for email.

The sender’s address is the email address of the person who sent you an email. You can find it on the top-right corner of an email, where it says “To:”. It usually has the following format: [email protected]

The receiver’s address is the email address of the person who received your email. It’s usually somewhere at the bottom, after everything else. It might be at the end of your email or right next to where you sent it.

A basic overview of the email sending system

Envelope and message

A letter is essentially two parts: the envelope and the letter itself. The envelope is used in email server routing, similar to the paper envelopes for postage. The envelope includes the address of the sender and the address of the return address of the mailer. Inside the envelope are letters that contain addresses to both the recipient and the recipient. The return email address in the envelope is different in appearance from the address of the sender on an e-mail.

Email addresses and SPF

SPF provides a mechanism to block spam by giving the domain owner the option to set the permission to send emails to a domain. SPF uses return-path verification: when an email gets sent from a certain domain, it checks whether the return path is “valid.” If it isn’t, then the email was probably forged and should be ignored. It’s important to note that SPF only works on MX records—it doesn’t protect against malicious users sending out emails from your own account or those of other trusted contacts.

Email addresses and DMARC

Emails from a domain aren’t always originating from where they say they are. This is why we need domain alignment. Domain alignment makes sure that emails are delivered to their intended recipients and stops those who are not. In order to do this, you need to enable DMARC for your domains.

The idea behind DMARC is that you can have an email sender authenticate their email for you in order to make sure it’s legitimate and what you expect it to be. The result is that if someone sends an email from one domain and claims it was sent from another domain, your email provider will know what really happened: your recipient doesn’t have access to that domain’s mail servers.

Advantages for Email Senders

Enhanced Email Deliverability

One of the primary advantages that email authentication protocols like DMARC present to domain owners (email senders) is an improved email deliverability rate. DMARC ensures that your sender’s legitimate emails do not get unnecessarily marked as spam or blocked out of the receiver’s inbox. This provides a better chance of your marketing emails being read, enabling your potential customers to notice you more.

Reduced Impersonation Threats

Impersonation attacks are very common for online businesses, whether you are an established enterprise or a startup venture. It can leave a lasting impression on your customers, impact your brand’s credibility and lead to the loss of clients. DMARC protects your brand name from being used for malicious purposes, through the process of identity verification. This sustains your goodwill and reputation in the long run.

DMARC Reporting and Monitoring

Apart from identity protection, DMARC also tenders to a reporting mechanism that helps domain owners stay abreast of any impersonation attempts made on their domain. They can keep track of emails failing to get delivered due to failures in authentication checks, allowing them to cut down on their threat-response time. All they need to do is configure a DMARC report analyzer to view their reports easily across a single pane of glass.

Advantages for Email Receivers

Protection against Phishing Attacks

DMARC isn’t just a safety batch for the sender of the email, but also the receiver. We already know that a spoofing attack usually ends with phishing. The receiver of a fake email is at a high risk of falling prey to phishing attacks that aim to steal their banking credentials, and/or other sensitive information. DMARC helps reduce the risk of email phishing drastically.

Read the latest phishing trends report by the APWG.

Protection Against Ransomware

Sometimes fake emails contain links to download ransomware into the receiver’s system. This can lead to email receivers being held hostage at the mercy of threat actors who ask for hefty ransoms. When the receiver is an employee of the impersonated organization, the stakes for the company are even higher. DMARC acts as a primary line of defense against ransomware, preventing email receivers from being held hostage.

Promotes a Safe Email Experience

DMARC helps promote a safe email experience for the sender and receiver alike. It helps both parties engage in a lucid and unhindered exchange of information without the fear of being tricked or impersonated by cyber attackers.

DMARC for Mail Sender and Receiver: a concise implementation guide

To ensure you are configuring DMARC correctly for your mail sender and receiver, you need an action plan in place which goes something like this:

  • Make sure you are including all your third-party IP addresses in your SPF record
  • Avoid setting up multiple SPF or DMARC records for a single domain
  • Shift to DMARC enforcement by configuring a DMARC analyzer to prevent legitimate emails from failing delivery while still stopping spoofing attempts
  • Make sure your email sender’s reputation isn’t poor due to increased spam alerts

To avail of DMARC services for your mail sender and receiver, get your free DMARC trial today!

We are here to once and for all clarify one of the most common concerns raised by domain owners. Will a DMARC reject policy hurt your email deliverability? Long answer short: No. A DMARC reject policy can only harm your email deliverability when you have configured DMARC incorrectly for your domain, or have taken an enforced DMARC policy too casually so as not to enable DMARC reporting for your domain. Ideally, DMARC is designed to improve your email deliverability rates over time.

What is a DMARC Reject Policy?

A DMARC reject policy is a state of maximum DMARC enforcement. This means that if an email is sent from a source that fails DMARC authentication, that email would be rejected by the receiver’s server and would not be delivered to him. A DMARC reject policy is beneficial for organizations as it helps domain owners put an end to phishing attacks, direct-domain spoofing, and business email compromise.

When should you configure this policy?

As DMARC experts, PowerDMARC recommends that while you are an email authentication novice, DMARC at monitoring only is the best option for you. This would help you get comfortable with protocol while keeping track of your email’s performance and deliverability. Learn how you can monitor your domains easily in the next section.

When you are confident enough to adopt a stricter policy, you can then set up your domain with p=reject/quarantine. As a DMARC user, your main agenda should be to stop attackers from successfully impersonating you and tricking your clients, which cannot be achieved with a “none policy”. Enforcing your policy is imperative to gain protection against attackers.

Where can you go wrong?

DMARC builds on protocols like SPF and DKIM which have to be preconfigured for the former to function correctly.  An SPF DNS record stores a list of authorized IP addresses that are allowed to send emails on your behalf. Domain owners can mistakenly miss out on registering a sending domain as an authorized sender for SPF. This is a relatively common phenomenon among organizations using several third-party email vendors. This can lead to SPF failure for that particular domain. Other mistakes include errors in your DNS records and protocol configurations. All of this can be avoided by availing of hosted email authentication services.

How to Monitor Your Emails with a DMARC Report Analyzer

A DMARC report analyzer is an all-in-one tool that helps you monitor your domains across a single interface. This can benefit your organization in more ways than one:

  • Gain complete visibility and clarity on your email flow
  • Shift to a reject policy without the fear of deliverability issues
  • Read DMARC XML reports in a simplified and human-readable format
  • Made changes to your DNS records in real-time using actionable buttons without accessing your DNS

Configure DMARC safely and correctly at your organization using a DMARC analyzer today, and permanently eliminate all fears pertaining to deliverability issues!